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Scotland are denied victory by refereeing errors

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John Beattie | 18:13 UK time, Sunday, 26 February 2012

It is hard to be a Scotland rugby fan sometimes.

I am in an emptying Murrayfield where the French are ecstatic and Scotland coach Andy Robinson looks fed up.

We were treated to a fantastic game, but I was not impressed by some of the decisions made by referee Wayne Barnes.

He missed a high tackle on Duncan Weir and seemed to ignore French entry to rucks from the side.

Nick De Luca

Scotland's Nick De Luca (centre) came off the bench and produced a fantastic performace in their 17-23 defeat to France at Murrayfield. Photo: Getty

A pivotal moment was the injury to Rory Lamont when the game paused for five minutes and Scottish momentum was lost.

The difference between the teams was at breakdown as the French scrummage got the upper hand.

The French were disruptive at contact time, better at driving beyond the ball when in defence and very cute at coming in from the side.

Scotland were competitive, but they allowed the French to play their normal game.

Aside from that, David Denton is getting better with every game, Ross Rennie and John Barclay were impressive and young Stuart Hogg is the kind of player who can make the whole stadium rise from their seats.

I also reserve a special word of praise for Nick De Luca. He was forced to close down his Twitter account because of personal attacks but, when he came on to the pitch, he had the game of his life and was as good as anyone on the pitch.

He flew out of the line to stop French attacks and was strong and abrasive when he carried the ball. I hope he feels proud of the way he played.

Again, Ross Ford had one of his best games in a blue jersey. However, it proved to be the same gameplan as against Wales last time out (Wales 27-13 Scotland) with a one-pass game giving way to more width as it all opened up at half-time.

But the French are world-class and, led by Thierry Dusautoir and Imanol Harinordoquy, they proved to be better players.

Most students of rugby would ask Scotland to play exactly the same way as they are currently doing so Robinson must not walk away.

I feel sad after that game, in a way I find hard to explain. I hardly ever criticise referees but it is time to bring in some more scrutiny of these performances.

France were good, but Scotland would have won had one or two calls by the official gone the other way.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    A fine performance, one of the best for years. We need more young guns!!! And with linebreak after linebreak we will soon be scoring week in week out.

  • Comment number 2.

    Not much to add to that John. You've pretty said it all.
    First of all what a game - I was cheering, swearing and close to tears - all within 80 mins. Will need much longer than that to get over it.
    I have also been ranting on about the ref - usually I try and remain objective and think that decisions tend to even out, like luck. But we have had a few very costly decisions go against us for a few games now. Today was no exception. Particularly the missed high tackle that would have allowed us to level the scores, and lessened the need to try and chase the game in the final 10-15mins? Also what was going on with the penalty advantage - even our resident Welsh commentator remarked on both these incidents! Maybe getting ref decisions is a bit like making your own luck?
    Finally the players did themselves and us proud - pleased to see NDL have a good game.

  • Comment number 3.

    Totally agree John it is so hard being a Scotland supporter. We are improving but we need a victory quickly or I fear Robinson may walk away.

    Hogg was great really exciting, NDL did well when he came on and Lee Jones had a great game. Can't wait for Visser and Matt Scott to come in and that is a very exciting backline.

    I also thought Vernon looked good when he came on.

    Its a real shame for Rory Lamont

    Injuries always happen in a game and the loss of Blair was crucial. Then Laidlaw went off after 50 mins (big miss) which meant Weir was making his debut along side Cusiter who is not really on form.

    Does anyone agree that if Laidlaw and Blair had been there until the end it might have been different ?( No disrespect to cusiter or Weir but Blair and Laidlaw are on fire as a partnership)

    Anyway we can only hope but at least we scored tries, it was a good game but like every other Scotland fan you ask yourself "When will the refereeing blunder happen?"

    Its just dreadful and you cannot change the result or even say the result would have been different but the high tackle on Weir went unpunished which is just so unjust

    Good luck in Dublin guys and thank you for giving your all

  • Comment number 4.

    Wayne Barnes? Enough said I think...except that he really does have a problem with the Scots and sadly I really don't think that he is a very good referee in the first place!

  • Comment number 5.

    There have been a few matches where I thought Wayne Barnes has missed crucial decisions. I am pleased that I support England.

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick De Luca played out of his skin. I've always rated him - especially his handling (anyone remember his floated pass to Ansbro against Ireland during the WC warm-up game?) The last thing we need is our players being abused - we need everybody working together - including armchair critics like me. Great game against a really good team. Let's get that win in Dublin!

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    I would disagree with no 3.. Laidlaw is a good club player. He has missed two tackles which have cost us tries. 1 against Wales and another today. We need a 10. full stop. Not a bad stop gap, but not a long term option.

  • Comment number 9.

    At least Scotland know exactly how Ireland must be feeling after two ridiculously duff and match losing decisions against Wales in as many years (albeit from touch judges) … makes you long for the days of Clive Norling, when forwards knew they could get away with nothing (and so didn't bother trying) and scrum halves were penalised if the ball wasn't dead straight, much less fed to the feet of the second row!

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Come on John, France were just cruising and could raise their game as and when they wanted! Scotland played as well as they could but were never going to win that match! Sadly, the Scots do not have the depth of talent that they need to compete against the top teams and the small, fast backs may be exciting in attack but,sadly, they can be bumped off in tackles far too easily which led to two of the French scores today!

  • Comment number 12.

    Watching from France I claimed for 3 yellow cards in the first 10 minutes, and was promptly accused of being biaised - rightly as it turns out.
    But the French TV reckoned the Beauxis penalty was the 1st of the 2nd half, which is quite an amazing statistic if true (and very lenient on both teams).
    Is it a coincidence though that the game was very (for 6N) 'open & fluid' ?

    So it's simple really Barnes must have lost his whistle and yellow card.... somewhere. Hope that happens more often, especially if the ref is called Clancy!

  • Comment number 13.

    After feeling sick of being valiant losers I'm actually quite upbeat. I thought Scotland played really well and show actual signs of promise. I know we've heard all this before but if both backs and forwards have a good game we might win something.
    Today I felt the backs were better than the forwards and showed attacking flair not seen for ages. Laidlaw was great with ball in hand but afraid will be a target for any opposition attack. The centers did well when most folk thought they'd be a disaster (sure I saw both passing at least twice), and made good yards with ball in hand. I don't need to elaborate on how good Hogg is. And a special mention to De Luca. Carried, tackled, passed brilliantly. Didn't put a foot wrong.
    Forwards. Why were are scrums so poor? We had the weight advantage. Why do we have an inability to clear out rucks anymore? We are constantly being slowed down by hands and bodies on the ball. Rennie did really well and looks to be ripping the ball in every tackle, also carried well with the rest of the back row.
    If we can sort out these rucks and stop being bullied at the breakdown we could have fast ball for a now dangerous back line.
    Don't blame the ref jb. It stinks of being a sore loser. We had some favourable calls at the start and although in general refs go against the underdog I don't think he was that bad. We just need to be more crafty at the breakdown.

  • Comment number 14.

    What match were you watching, John? France are on a different planet and were never going to lose this match even if they rarely got out of first gear. These are sentimental comments much like those of English players after they were turned over in NZ. "We wiz robbed" doesn't wash now any more than it did in every other game Scotland have lost.

  • Comment number 15.

    Yes De Luca played well but one good game doesn't quite erase the many poor ones he had for Scotland. Now he's shown us what he can do it's up to him to take his chance. Thought Sean Lamont had an all too rare good game too.

    Sadly the same can't be said for Cusiter, we lost any realistic chance when Blair went off. Was Cusiter watching the game before he came on? how many aimless punts up in the air did he see Blair doing? Useless! If Blair is injured it's time to give someone (anyone) else a chance.

    Scotland have got some good players coming through time to keep the faith and should do well in the remaining two games , win at least one.

    Finally, the ref was poor, as he always is, but not the main reason we lost.

  • Comment number 16.

    It is hard to be a Scotland rugby fan sometimes... Oh please, what a cheap and nasty post. Sorry but you lost, get over it. That might sound blunt and without compassion but the title of this piece and a few lines within were vintage sour grapes.
    While watching the game I wanted the Scots to win and hoped they would. God knows why as every Scotsman would sell his soul in order that England get thumped.
    However, I always felt the French could turn the game around if they needed to. Well, I might be doing them a service they didn't deserve on the day, but hey ho.

    Wit regards to some of your new players. Denton is a splendid ball carrier and to be honest showed several nice touches and off loads today. However, Hogg is a real cracker and a player that if he were an Englishman I be over the moon to have playing for us.

    Again, sorry if I sounded calous but we're not football fans, we're rugby supporters.

    Matt..

  • Comment number 17.

    I thought that was a good game. n that form Rennie looks to be about the best openside in the NH and Hogg was superb. De Luca had a great game too, always first up on the french midfield - hopefully he's finally bringing his edinburgh form to Scotland. Morrison had a good game too i thought. I, personally think a Morisson - De Luca midfield is our strongest.

    I think we missed Blair a lot and Laidlaw going off was a blow as well.

    On another day (with a better referee) we might of edged that.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Scotland are denied victory by refereeing errors" - John your argument is invalid as Scotland's 2nd try should not have stood - Barclay tackled the man, failed to roll away from the ruck and simply picked the ball up without going through the back. Scotland lost for the same reason they usually lose - they are just not good enough!

  • Comment number 19.

    I also do not like to blame the ref, its not the done thing in rugby. However, I think Barnes needs reviewing, it's becoming a joke. Saying that he didn't cause our loss. Silly errors in the dying moments of the game were to blame as well as a lack of composure after we scored a second try. We're still only playing 60-70 mins of rugby. Hopefully we'll play similarly against Ireland and get the win we need!

  • Comment number 20.

    A fantastic effort from the squad, really sad we lost in the end. With the quality number of line breaks improving, we really need to improve our support play and structure off line break rucks moving the ball swiftly to the space. I’m still concerned about how easy the opposition can slow up our ruck ball! I think this is big hurdle from taking a place at the top table in the 6N. I thought the rugby ruck entry refereeing and the miss high tackle was poor but excellent for Jones’ try with it being a tackle and not a ruck. Really building for the Irish game!

    For Hoggs’ line break against Rougerie in the first half all he had to do was step in instead of out and he was in for a double. Class performance and solid under the high ball!

  • Comment number 21.

    zMichael22 - Barclay was well within his right to pick up that ball, he was the tackler. The pundits even talked about that after the game today. His try was completely legal.

  • Comment number 22.

    if we look at our performance it simply was not good enough. Jones missed 2 tackles and France scored 2 tries. Admittedly Laidlaw bounced off Trin Duch which broke the line for first try.
    Secondly we dont have a tight head strong enough to stabilise scrum, hence were going back in 2nd half often in disarray.
    Until we get basics right we will always be under pressure.
    Not Robinson's fault- not referees fault- we are simply not good enough in key positions to control the game

  • Comment number 23.

    A better performance from Scotland although France always looked capable of stepping up the gears if required.

    Hogg looks very promising and Lee Jones had a good game. The pack is always competitive and the back row excellent. Time to maintain faith in the promising younger players, the results will come.

  • Comment number 24.

    Barnes, not for the first time, was a disgrace, Scotland complain 1 or 2 decisions might have gone their way I counted more like 7 or 8 - you cannot beat a class team like France and the referee too, Barnes should be removed from the International Panel he is not good enough, he makes poor decisions all the time at club level and is more interested in making himself the centre of attention instead of refereeing a game impartially. I am not a Scot either so no sour gapes -
    R.F.U. please take note

  • Comment number 25.

    In the England Game, Scotland had the penalty advantage, Laidlaw kicked ahead, no advantage gained, Clancy says penalty advantage over. Today, France had the penalty advantage, kicked the ball into touch, Barnes still gives the penalty. These inconsistencies are infuriating and costing Scotland in particular.

  • Comment number 26.

    Would this happen to be the same Wayne Barnes who missed Contepomi's offside right at the death at the world cup as Dan Parks attempted a drop goal, charging it down and winning the game for Argentina, eventually putting Scotland out of the tournament when what should have followed was a penalty in front of the posts to win the game for us?

  • Comment number 27.

    Scotland played well, but not well enough to win - we need to remain focused and retain compusure for the full 80, I've no doubt France could have done more sooner but gosh they were up against it. That said, and yes it's not rugby to moan about the referee, but how on earth is Barnes still refereeing top-flight rugby, the guy is a disgrace, he should have officiated has last game after his shocker between Ireland & Wales a few weeks ago, and at the World Cup, New Zeland against France in Cardiff in the WC before last! Wales against South Africa, and recently at club level at Sale. He needs to go, he spoils it for everyone.

  • Comment number 28.

    As always you are spot on big fella. I know what you're saying about the ref: I tried to get the west stand to join in with a chorus of "who's the Frenchman in the Orange" but they weren't up for it.

    Also, thought that when we were in the ascendancy the cheese eating surrender monkeys had an awful lot of injuries too.

    The boys played well, I thought they were bullied off the ball on a few crucial occasions however, the results WILL come. Also thought Cussiter and Weir linked up well and Hogg showed prowess beyond his tender years.

  • Comment number 29.

    We were at the game today and have to say that the Scotland performance was really very good and unfortunately a few mistakes cost us dear. There were a number of standout performances today from the Scotland team, including the majority of the forwards and Blair and Hogg in the backs. I thought the Scotland back row were excellent, with Rennie once again showing what a class act he is.
    I agree that NDL played very well when he came on.

    I couldn't believe it when I heard WB was the referee today. Numerous times he has given very poor decisions against Scotland, most recently against Argentina in the World cup. It does raise the question as to what his motives are?

    On the AR question, he should stay. There are real signs of improvement and whilst the record in the 6N isn't good, I believe that we have the making of a good team, with a lot of new,skillful players to come through.
    The players today showed that they are fully committed to Scotland and AR, they scored two good tries, so here's to the last two games and let's get a win or two!!

  • Comment number 30.

    You should try being an England supporter John - If Steve Walsh had asked "Is there any reason I cannot award a try" rather than "Try or no try" then Flood would have been lining up a kick to level the game - how can the result of a game be allowed to rest on a turn of phrase?

  • Comment number 31.

    Winning an international rugby match when a scrum = a penalty is always going to be next to impossible Scotland must sort this out now or the wooden spoon beckons. Italy are very well equipped to exploit this particluar weakness.

  • Comment number 32.

    Props were poor, both in scrumming and in the loose. Jacobson gave away 3 penalties in the loose - unacceptable.

    Ford, 2nd rows, back row all played very well, as did Blair.

    Cusiter treated us to his usual crab step passing, poor box kicks, moaning to the ref [whilst the french counter rucked], and poor control of the breakdown. Lawson MUST come into the squad for the next game.

    Laidlaw distributed well but Weir looks a better all round 10.

    Midfield was ok but lacked flair. De luca was playing for the jersey.

    Jones walked over by opposite number for try. Hogg - exceptional runner.

    "Scotland are denied victory by refereeing errors" - Again, complete delusion. Please stop encouraging these sour grapes. Referees will unconsciously favour the perceived stronger team [look at NZ]. You have to earn that. We haven't. Get over it.

  • Comment number 33.

    Good job Steve Walsh wasn't the referee otherwise who knows what might have happened!!

  • Comment number 34.

    If you go and watch footy instead, you can have a proper go at the ref with like-minded people.

  • Comment number 35.

    If they same team that started the game was still playing for the first 70 mins we would have won the match. Too many unforced changes!

  • Comment number 36.

    John,

    It's too easy to blame the ref. I agree Barnes and his touch judges were a big factor in loosing that game but equally so were our missed tackles, composure at key points, poor scrum and tactical kicking. What I will say on the refereeing team was that their policing of offside was, in my view, unacceptable. When we made clean line breaks into the French 22 they were so far offside and the subsequent breakdowns it was not even a hard call, Barnes seemed to care not a jot.

    Hogg played a blinder, I swear his side step must move him 5m sideways whilst moving at pace. The big modern guys just have too much inertia to be able to get to him, however he must improve his tactical kicking as some of his clearances were poor and gifted the French possession when they could have been put under pressure.

  • Comment number 37.

    so many positives, yet so many reasons to want to bang your head off a brick wall.

    The positives - 2nd row is very good. Gray is world class and Hamilton has really come on to a game this season, it would appear a slightly slimmer Jim has improved his mobility immeasureably.

    The back row - Denton good at carrying, Rennie - words cannot express how good he was at turning possession over and making a legitimate nuisance of himself, that is the best open-side performance i've ever seen from a Scot and Barclay was not shown up by being on the blind side, giving more going forward than the likes of Brown or Strokosch.

    Blair excellent at s-h

    De Luca - i've always been a bit of a critic, not to the point of having a go at him on twitter those responsible should be ashamed, but he was superb today, running lines, carrying,offloading and tackling excellent.

    Hogg - What a home debut, looked like he'd create every time he had the ball.

    Ford - good throwing in and excellent carrying, not vocal enough as captain though.

    Negatives - Jacobsen and Cross in the scrum were pushed back at ease.

    Laidlaw had a good game going forward but defensively he looks like a 9 at 10.

    Jones again good going forward but really poor tackle on Malzieu.

    Cusiter - was really overshadowed by Blair at 9 and wasn't nearly as effective when he came on.

    Kellock - his cameo performances in this seasons 6N have had significant errors - giving away penalty vs England and knock-on at crucial point today.

    As for the ref, i'm not blaming him for the result, but it's mystifying why a French high tackle is let go yet a Scottish 1 is penalised and the penalty advantage when we were 3 points down in the 2nd half amounted to a phase of play where the ball ended up over the touch-line - mystifying!

    anyway, 3 tries from 3 games now. All created from open play and not a charge down to be seen. Annoyed by Guscotts comment that Scotland back-room team had forgotten how to celebrate tries, he's English is he not? the least creative side in the 6N.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi John,
    Wayne Barnes was poor,but wasn't helped by his touch judges not helping for the constant offsides missed and the side entry at rucks but Scotland are improving,so hopefully soon they will get a well deservedv win

  • Comment number 39.

    All in all, a good performance by Scotland with some outstanding passages of play. Great to see NDL flying out the blocks. Hope he can continue this form. Pity about the lack of support runners tho on a few occasions. Unfortunately, it looks like we're back to the bad old days of non-scrummaging props - I know the French are a class act in this field, but the scrum was an embarassment. Looked like the french were trying to exploit that other great Scottish weakness - the restart- but again, that seemed to be ok, apart from after the 1st try. Confident about giving the Irish a run for their money....not so sure about Italy who'll no doubt resort to an 80 minute arm wrestle

  • Comment number 40.

    I think John is a little off the mark if he thinks Wayne Barnes cost us the game. Wayne was incompetent in many areas the technicalities of the breakdown aside. He missed 3 clear scottish knock ons in the first 5 minutes. He should have carded the french for holding back the support runner Rennie following Ford's break. By all accounts he missed a high shot on Weir following Jones' great pickup. But the fact is Scotland were vastly improved from previous outings but were quite easily held at arm's length by the french pack once Beauxis put them ahead. France murdered us at scrum time and really messed with our ball at the breakdown. It seemed their bulk was a major factor in slowing our ball down. Once they stopped kicking for touch and keeping the game tight I thought we struggled to compete.
    However we must look at the positives because there were several. Blair was excellent from the start and was missed when he went off, one or two aimless kicks aside. His ability to bring in runners from the breakdown gave the french a lot to think about. Ford carried well. Barclay showed more than Rennie and i'm a big rennie fan. Weir was class when he came on, Hogg we know about and Lamont and Morrison worked well to get go forward. But big hats off to NDL who stuck 2 fingers up at the haters with a performance of pure class. Aggression in defence and attack, a world class pick up from a low ball and above all the desire to show all the doubters, me included, that he can reproduce his edinburgh form in front of a full murrayfield.
    It wasnt Wayne's fault we lost it was the fact the French are better, but we're getting there.

  • Comment number 41.

    Yes you are right about referee decisions.
    I cant believe how many times bad ones have influenced games.
    Consistency is all I ask for.
    In the England game Wales kicked long from a restart.
    One player was along way in front of the kicker, he was up and at England long before he should be, resulting in a penalty for Wales.
    And of course there’s something wrong when they cant be consistent over the throw in at the line out, that’s the easiest one for the officials to call.
    Tackling of the ball, hanging on to players legs after the tackle. (the French did that a lot today)
    Something needs to be done because its all getting very messy.

  • Comment number 42.

    What I would add is two things which unfortunately we seem to keep complaining about year after year: 1) We need to produce quicker ball from rucks. France were able to do it today as do other top sides. Slow ball gives the opposition time to regroup and organise themselves for your next attack which in turn becomes predictable. 2) We need our players to support whoever makes a line-break. The second try of ours showed what is possible when we do this. Sadly, this was not a regular occurrence. Over the years a Scotland player makes a line-break only to find that his team-mates have been too ponderous in their response. Said player is now isolated and easier to defend against than two or three Scotland players on the overlap would be (Mike Blair must have been tearing his hair out). The one time where players ran up in support of the line-breaker, we scored a try. It is not rocket science.

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm tired of the say nothing approach to refereeing decisions. If you're consistently slapped in the face you don't just shut up and take it. Too much poor refereeing has come our way in recent times.

    It's all a little too easy to say Scotland aren't good enough to win anyway, so the decisions don't matter. At 17-20 there are two bizarro moments within seconds from the ref and we could and should have been level. Then who knows?!!!

    We're our own worst enemy at times with errors, we don't need to have an enemy in the officials too. Our opposing teams take advantage of the weak officiating too, which makes it all the more difficult, straying offside and I've noticed far too many line outs that could never be called straight.

    Happy to see some tries though and we really need to force the issue against the Irish and Italians.

  • Comment number 44.

    I knew as soon as I relised that Wayne Barnes was the ref that Scotland had no chance of winning. He totally ignored high tackles by the French while awarding penalties for those by the Scots that looked no worse. As a referee his credibility is less than zero. He has by his poor officiating decided the results of both the games he has had charge of. I look forward to the day that he is fired from the international panel. Otherwise I was encouraged by the Scottish performance and disppointed by the result.

  • Comment number 45.

    Denied victory by refereeing errors? Oh come on, that is absolutely ridiculous! I know you are patriotic but can you imagine if an Englishman, ex-player or not, came up with a title like that on a BBC blog, celts everywhere would be demanding his head!
    On the game, yes, the ref was lenient for both sides but the French were a bit more streetwise and even though they were below par, they could raise their game when required. Liked the look of Weir when he came on, De Luca had his best game for Scotland and there are many more positives but the game always did look beyond them.

  • Comment number 46.

    said it before big John - Townsend, Hodge, Leslie, and the boys

    Laidlaw goes down, should have had Townsend on

    Lamont goes down, should have had Rowan Shepard on

    Blair goes down, should have had Gary Armstrong on.

    Class is permanent

  • Comment number 47.

    It makes you wonder what Scotland have to do? I thought that they played brilliantly for the most part and finally looked like scoring and actually scored some sharp tries.

    Wayne Barnes was weird and would concur with John's view that France got away with murder at the breakdown. As an Englishman I find it quietly maddening to know that if England had played like that...stepping over the ruck or entering from the side, they would have been whistled off the pitch and pilloried weeks after. The missing element though was Scotland trying to do the same thing so Barnes' consistency was never really tested.

    Scotland still seem to have a highish error-rate which is costing them dear. That being said, don't change anything...it was a joy to watch a team going for it at high speed. Their time will come! Denton, Rennie and Hodge...Bl***y Brilliant!

    The BBC coverage for me was spoiled by their current obsession with slo-mo replays while the game is still in play. That and the appalling Jonothan Davies who moaned throughout the entire game and couldn't find a nice word to say about Scotland even when they were playing out of their skins! It takes corrosive negativity to a new level.

  • Comment number 48.

    It's time someone stood up and asked questions about the officials. For too long the referee on reputation. France are great scrummagers so therefore it must be a penalty to France. Scotland are always offside at rucks. Richie McCaw is never offside. Wayne Barnes had a shocker, how he could say that Alan Jackobson was off his feet defeats me, he wasn't! The Duncan Weir high tackle and then after that he appeared to say penalty advantage, but then forgot about it. Scotland played well, two defensive lapses cost us dear, but Andy Robinson is building a good team. Well done Scotland keep going, keep believing it will come good.

  • Comment number 49.

    Is it now in our rugby culture to blame the ref for loses? I don't remember all this complaining in the pre-proffessional era.
    I agree with Numberto, refs definately give the perceived stronger team the benefit of the doubt but Scotland are allowing the opposition to slow the ball down. Clear the rucks out, allow Blair to distribute fast ball and the rest should work itself out. You can't defend against fast ball.
    You need to sort out the scrums too though.

  • Comment number 50.

    Post 44
    It's sad that as soon as you see who’s officiating the match, you know you have no chance.
    Unfortunately for England, that’s just about every match.

  • Comment number 51.

    tinflaps, as I said, if it happens every game, somethings got to be said eventually.

    We're not blaming the ref, just pointing out they're mistakes as well as our own.

  • Comment number 52.

    Referees do have a huge influence on a game and therefore need to be at the top of their game - Barnes wasn't today and that's nothing unusual!!! High tackle on Weir was a replica of Chunk's tackle so why was a penalty not given?

    There also needs top be some agreement and consistency around the advantage law - it is so subjective and varies from official to official - should be either time dependent or phase dependent then everyone knows where they stand.

  • Comment number 53.

    Oh dear John you really have disappointed me by blaming the referee for part of Scotland's woes! That's a soccer trait that has no place in the great game. Just accept the fact that yet again, we pulled up short.
    Good teams score enough points to make the odd error by officials unimportant (they happen to both sides every match).
    We failed to win AGAIN and as for the "Let's take the positives forward" brigade-well it's too late boys and girls-the tournament for us, is over. Over halfway through and not a jot to show for it.
    Yes we played a bit better that previous matches, yes we have "rising stars", yes we played our socks off, but guess what? SO DO ALL THE OTHER TEAMS_BUT THEY DO THEM BETTER!!!!!!
    I think Robinson really fouled up today by too many replacements coming on at cruciai times which unbalanced the side.
    Ah well, there's always Italy to beat to spare the blushes-I HOPE!!

  • Comment number 54.

    I am not sure that you can blame that defeat on the performance of Stuart Barnes. I would say that the Scotland side had enough chances to win the game. They were unlucky at points and I think that if blair had stayed on they would have had a better chance. However, I believe that the french were the better side on the day and were much more clinical. The scottish seemed to lack real attacking flair and their points came from mistakes by the french rather than due to their own creativity, they finished well but more creativity needed

  • Comment number 55.

    I feel that before the second try when the french "turned over" possession there were at least! two offenses by the French which then ultimately led to their try.
    And Wayne Barnes just ignored both and stood there...
    According to Wayne Barnes there were only two French offenses worthy of punishing... I wonder sometimes.

  • Comment number 56.

    I am not a great fan of W Barnes but as I have posted elsewhere Scots did not help their cause. Blaming Barnes does not explain their defeat. Although he doesnt seem to have any clue as how to police the forwards, the way Scots allowed the French to bundle them over in the rucks was woeful.
    Could they have won the match? Yes with a different interpretation of the OFFSIDE LAW at the rucks and mauls and some phases of open play, and a great deal of self belief they might have.

  • Comment number 57.

    Scotland played well today but yet again their inability to finish off good breaks and their lack of quality off the bench, especially when compared to the French bench, let them down.
    The forwards need to learn when to get out of the way and make sure the ball keeps going to the speed players to exploit a broken defence once the initial break has been made. I counted 3 times where we blew scoring chances that France, Wales et al would have converted, and the ref wasn't at fault for any of them. If we don't put these chances away we'll always be at risk of losing to a poor refereeing decision.
    France weren't in first gear. They are a top team and had to scrap hard for that victory. They always look good with the ball in hand because they are good. They did look disjointed at times because we didn't let them play for large parts of the game. It is credit to us that we made them work so hard by denying them the ball for much of the first half. In the last 15 mins they brought on players who would be in our starting line up if Scottish, few if any of our bench would make the French bench never mind start for them. We lost the solid forward platform, the scrum went backwards, the French were too good not to exploit the weakness and at 70 mins it was GAME OVER.

    I do agree with one of the other posts though in that Barnes is just simply a poor referee whether at club or international level and he really should be dumped. However, he wasn't and isn't the reason why Scotland keep losing.

  • Comment number 58.

    First of all i thought Scotland were class today! I also thought the ref as SHOCKING!!!!! it makes it really hard to explane rules to people that are just getting into the sport when the ref keeps changing them!!

    Second i would like to say how much better the comentry on bbc radio Scotland was. Just press that red button and Jonothan Davies is banished! The boys on the radio make the game much more fun and talk more sense! 47 you should try it!

  • Comment number 59.

    Here we go again, whining about officials. Sore losers are never attractive. Bottom line is, that France were too strong for Scotland and irrespective of any dubious or debateable refereeing moments, that French team took control of the second half and won comfortably.

    The final 10 mins highlighted the gulf in the two sides - Scotland gamely huffing and puffing and the French looking like they could kill off their oppostion at will and easily preventing any serious Scottish progress. Scotland were still in touch at 6 pts down but France throttled the life out of a long out of ideas and predictable Scottish showing.

    The Scottish game was strewn with basic errors, which other 6 nations sides don't make, and the lack of support for breakaways and general lack of awareness of what team mates were doing, startling. As each game ends in this tournament, we fall further behind the 4 contenders. We could never have lived with England or Wales yesterday, and today the outcome was inevitable.

    Scotland will do well to lose pluckily in Dublin and the wooden spoon game is the only hope for consolation success although Italy will fancy their chances of what would not be a surprise win. I admire the optimism expressed by some but it's time for realism and hope that in 12 months the promising new comers have become genuinely competative.

  • Comment number 60.

    Travelled down from Inverness (3 1/2 hours each way) for the game and really enjoyed the entertainment on show -well done Scotland and France. I really do not like to blame officials but will comment that referees will miss instances (high tackle) and should not be harrangued for it as players also make mistakes when the game is played at pace. However it is evident that some referees have never played the game at a decent level so do not understand how to officiate at rucks or scrums. I am afraid that you can only get so much out a book or a powerpoint presentation and if a referee is lost at the breakdown then the IRB should call time and develop another referee in his place.

  • Comment number 61.

    All those saying blaming the ref is unfair and a soccer trait, so is being blinded.

    Scottish fans have three fears, Cusiter playing as he always wrecks a good thing; Alain Rolland and Wayne Barnes are the other two.

  • Comment number 62.

    #16

    "every Scotsman would sell his soul in order that England get thumped. "

    As a Scot who cheered England on whilst in Sydney in 2003, perhaps you know too little to have ventured onto this blog. What you have to say generally confirms that.

    For all those posting here that Scotland couldn't have won as France were coasting, perhaps you don't know much about the game either. Scotland were a genuine threat in attack today and one converted try would have secured victory. If you believe that was beyond Scotland, you obviously weren't watching the game.

    Nick De Luca should have silenced his critics now, as common decency should have kept them silent last week. He had a great game and thoroughly deserves to keep his place for the next game in Dublin.

    I doubt we will experience the same problems in the scrum against Ireland, but today's shunting backwards was a concern. The most disappointing aspect of today's game was not the referee, as nothing can be done about that, but the display of Chris Cusiter. As a long term advocate for his inclusion in the starting XV, there is now no question in my mind that Blair deserves the start and so poor is Cusiter's policing of the ruck, I'd replace him with Lawson on the bench.

    Laídlaw needs to work hard on his tackling, but, overall, I was hugely encouraged by today's performance and am looking forward to our visit to Dublin. Hopefully Ireland will be a wee bit tired after playing in Paris next weekend.

  • Comment number 63.

    MASSIVE MASSIVE resprect to Nick De Luca today. Very inspirational come back, he was sensational in defence and in attack.

  • Comment number 64.

    Three things stood out for me over the three games this weekend.

    1 In all three matches the inconsistency of referees in the use of the " advantage "
    and interpretation of "offside"
    The Welsh and Italy play right up on the limit and how France were so quick on the ball carrier puzzled me and a few others.
    2. The emergence of Hogg , Laidlaw and Weir as rare talent
    3. It was noticeable as soon as Blair went off we lost momentum . Cusiter does not seem to be able to release the ball without taking that extra step . He has done it all his playing days so too late now I suppose to change his ways . Plus his reading of the game is not as good as Blair,
    Time to give someone else a wee shot , methinks !!.

  • Comment number 65.

    #62 - Well done on backing England in the 03 WC. You're one of a kind. Most non English love nothing more than to poke fun when we fall and cross fingers and toes hoping we do so. As for saying my other comments show a lack of understanding. Really? I said what many others have already in that I felt France could have upped the tempo if they'd wanted to. After that I praised some of your tallented young players.

    I'm glad you got behind England in 03, really I am. I always get behind the other 6 nation teams when they play. Especially in a WC - just so long as they're not playing England that is.

    Reading this blog has been much more enjoyable than anything the Welsh drag themselves on to. I have no love for them at all...but I still wanted them to win the WC, mind.

    Matt..

  • Comment number 66.

    I completly agree John. Some clear penlaties missed, "knock ons" given when the ball didnt go forward and the ref at the breakdown - how did he not see the French playing the ball of their feet, coming at the side etc. All I can say is we are really starting to get there, when Blair went off we lost our flair. But atleast we are now getting tries, really hope Robinson stays he is starting to make Scotland a top side.

    And @18, Barclay was fine. He made the tackle got back to his feet, when back to his side and went through the middle (unlike the french)

  • Comment number 67.

    #65

    I referred to your opening paragraph and suggest you visit the Telegraph's site where you will find widespread condemnation of the referee. The Telegraph cannot be logically described as a Scottish publication.

    As far as the French turning the game around when they needed to, why is it they would have lost to one more converted try, which was a distinct possibility today? Nothing more than bluster.

    I am far from one of a kind with regard to rejecting "anyone but England".

  • Comment number 68.

    I think this 6 Nations is shaping up to be a very good one indeed. Many of the games have been excellent and very close and compelling. Despite the scorelines Italy have been really good and Scotland have played far better than the last few years.

    As for the refereeing it is 'inconsistent' in so far as (and speaking as a referee myself - although not at anything like this exhalted level!) it is extremely hard to see everything which happens even with touch judges chipping in. If the rules were applied in their entirety then the ref would blow every ten seconds. It is easy to cry foul with the benefit of TV replays, being on the pitch there is stuff going on everywhere and the ref has only one pair of eyes. For example, he might be looking at the back foot of one side and a player from the other side takes the opportunity to nip in at the side of the ruck.

    I was staggered by the England try decision. In these instances human error is to some extent removed. Watching the score from the normal TV pictures it was absolutely clear that Strettle got the ball down, it was then shoved away by the defenders and confusion reigned. However, the original footage from the camera showed that he reached backwards as he hit the floor and grounded the ball. It was amazed that it even went upstairs, the touch judge was only a few feet away with a clear view. That the official then denied it on the replay was, frankly, astounding, it was clear and still is. Oh well, add that to the one in the WC final where Cueto's little toe might conceivably have been 1mm into touch.

    However, there are several issues of consistency that need addressing and basic respect for the laws, certain practices are now ingrained and allowed which are contrary to the laws of the game. A few:

    - Tackled players have to release the ball, so how is it ok for them to pick it up again and hand it back. Release to me means get your hands off and keep them off.

    - Feeds in rugby union scrums ought to be straight.

    - Impose the offside rule from kicks, it is slipping badly. OK in broken play perhaps but from the kick off? Wales number 11 yesterday was a good ten feet offside at every restart and gained several unfair advantages as a result.

    - Binding in the ruck. You have to bind a man to be in the ruck, if not behind the back foot please. Nowadays there are regularly players loitering and clearly blocking off all around the fringes.

  • Comment number 69.

    I was at the game today and, as you can't see the minutiae of the rucks and contact situations, it is always hard to be certain as to what is going on. What was clear, however, was that France won ball back in situations where it is normally virtually impossible to do so....the crowd recognised this and howled their derision from the stands. i rather suspect the French cheated very effectively and were allowed to do so by a referee who often a long way away from international class.

    A great showing from Scotland in so many ways and a great game and for those who suggest that France always had another gear and won easily, they are talking tripe, pure and simple. However, a few thoughts....

    1) Blair going off was a huge blow. His style brings people in to play every effectively around rucks. This is exactly what we need as we have neither flaring pace nor dynamic power in our midfield.

    2) Cusiter's box kicking is lamentable and has been for years. Can someone not coach an otherwise talented player how to kick?

    3) Laidlaw's lack of size is definitely being targeted by other teams. Maybe he will prove to be a good club player (playing out of position) but not an international player in this modern age of size and power.

    4) This being a Sunday game killed us, actually. With Murray out, by the end we had our fourth choice tight head prop on the field. Kalman, sadly, is just not up to international rugby. The last two games have proved this conclusively. A tough scrummaging French side had total mastery over our scrum for the last twenty minutes. With Murray on the pitch this wouldn't happen. (incidentally, that's twice in a row France have come to Murrayfield on a Sunday and twice we have struggled there).

    5) Illegalities aside, what really killed us today was the enormous physicality of the French at the breakdown. Each collision where they take the ball into contact is like a mini street fight, no matter which player was concerned. This isn't a size thing, it's an attitude of mind. We Scots are just far too nice in contact. This has all sorts of implications...our ball is slower, we have to commit many more players to each ruck etc etc The speed of the French ball all game was breathtaking.

    6) Ross Rennie is quite brilliant. Shame that Sam Warburton is currently a nailed on certainty for the Lions No. 7 shirt in 2013.

    7) Is anyone else quite optimistic for the Lions in 2013? How about a Lions pack of Jenkins, Ford, Jones, Gray, Lawes, Ferris, Warburton and Heaslip? One of the greatest NH packs ever???

  • Comment number 70.

    I've said this a few times now: the way the game was reff'd was down to a policy being adopted during this tournament to avoid the whistle. As many others have posted, the French were often offside in the midfield after Scotland's breaks. If you remember back to the world cup, the touch judges were constantly bringing this to the ref's attention. In all the games, scrums are being allowed to go a lot longer before the whistle sounds, tacklers are not being put under the same pressure to roll away, either by whistle or verbal communication, counter rucking is being allowed without any need for staying on the feet or coming in through the gate. The only thing they seem to want to be strict on is correct entry by the attacking players. Even Barclays winning of the ball was a penalty which he has given away plenty of times in the past. The ruck had formed before he got to his feet & he was too late to go for the ball from that position.
    My major gripe is: what gives the elite refs the right to suddenly shift the goalposts like this? The laws are reviewed at specific times and involve consultation with many interested parties. This is not due until next year, I believe. They have pre-empted this and over stepped their responsibility. Just apply the laws as they are written, please, rather than choosing which you do or don't feel like.

    This is from my observations of all the 6N games, not just today's.

  • Comment number 71.

    Drowningnotwaving, it seems you've misunderstood me. I wasn't referring to the Telegraph's comments. I was referring to the opening line of this blog. As for the French being able to overwhelm the Scots, etc, I made reference to maybe paying the French unjustified lip service.

    It was a funny old game today. To start with I thought the French would come roaring back. But the next time I got chance to watch the game, in between cooking dinner and looking after my poorly daughter, you'd scored again and I honestly thought you could win. I was still slightly puzzled as to whether the French were being enigmatic or out played.

    Matt..

  • Comment number 72.

    From the top of the North Stand I couldn't really comment on WB's decisions, though it was frustrating to see French entries into rucks from any direction free from reprimand from the ref. What hacks me off more than that is that they are not "sorted out" by anyone in a Scotland shirt. Every team needs a few "fixers" but we seem to be a soft touch these days.

    Some real positives today though, with great performances from Hoggie and Lee Jones, and NDL when he came on. Pity the half backs were injured, but Weir did fine and moved the ball. Cusiter needs to remember that a box kick needs to go into the box, not over the top of it, to give following up players a chance of, er, following up. Support play was much improved, and passes were made quicker and to the right player. It was good to see the backs handling for a change without forwards getting in the way and slowing the move down, although one long kick (by Laidlaw?) was followed up by Jacobsen and Cross, which kind of took the pressure off the full back.

    Still too many mistakes though, and we must find two hard scrummaging props who are prepared to play when the rest of the team does!

  • Comment number 73.

    I agree that the ref. was dreadful but so long as we have a little fat man as first choice for one of our props and the kind of attitude displayed by the two Andys (Robinson and Nicol) - " We cannot ask more of the lads" - "We were unlucky" - " we have a good team" etc. etc. when the evidence (game after game thrown away by failure to carry out the basics properly) is to the contrary.

  • Comment number 74.

    The refs will never be flawless and it is obvious from all the weekend's games that they need to keep working hard to improve their contribution.

    Ultimately I feel Weir will be our best 10 and it's great to see such healthy competition for the jersey.

    NdL should only ever start again if injuries give us a headache of emergency proportions.

    Both Blair and Ford made excellent spontaneous breaks with woeful support. Wake up, Scotland.

    Did anyone else notice AR's body language in the booth? He wasn't standing up and gesticulating like an angry, frustrated man as usual. He was seated on the periphery of the group and looking decidedly out of sorts with it all.

    The Scottish plusses during this tournament have largely come from experimentation with our talented youth. A little bit more of the same is required. We're close now to really putting our best foot forward for the first time in a long time.

  • Comment number 75.

    Overall we played as well as a very physical French side permitted so not too disappointed.

    I felt that we lost direction and momentum as the Glasgow subs came on. Weir shipped a lot of ball wide aimlessly which had turnover written all over it due to lack of support. Kellock immediately knocked-on in an attacking position when he came on and was too easily man-handled by the French.

    Kalmans attempt at scrummaging was what you would expect of a club level 3rd choice tighthead. It is frightening to think of the lack of props Robinson has available. This is a position where weakness cannot be hidden. I noted that Kalman wears over-sized shorts possibly to disguise what must be the skinniest legs ive ever seen on an international prop.

    Jacobson continues to live a charmed life in a Scotland jersey also.

  • Comment number 76.

    It's disappointing that as soon as you make a critical assessment of a referee in a Rugby match, you are branded as no better than football supporters. Fact of the matter is, refereeing performances are at an all time low. Matches hinge on critical decisions and really, we should expect a lot better from the men with the whistles. Counting over the match, I saw Barnes make 11 different errors. All this and I don't even have a refereeing badge, just a copy of the law book!

  • Comment number 77.

    I don't normally comment of these blogs, but I watch Exeter Cheifs every week and agree that Wayne barnes is a poor referee, France were frequently offside entering from the side of a ruck and should have been penalised

  • Comment number 78.

    #11,

    Your comments might (although I doubt it) be worthy of attention when you learn to write a sentence without ending it an exclamation mark.

    Wayne Barnes had a poor game today, not for the first time. That said, Scotland's main problem was the perennial one of failing to fully capitalise on possession and territory. France are a good side but they were there for the taking in that first half.

  • Comment number 79.

    I'm joining the Andy Robinson supporters brigade ! France are are in the top 5 in the world and we scared the pants off them in the first 20 minutes ! . I thought Scotland looked like the winning team till the injuries to Blair and Lamont .Refereeing has been inconsistent since the first PE teacher pulled a whistle out of his pocket ! Get behind that squad Scotland, they are working their socks off in those jerseys and should make you proud ........!!! Gutted for all those players !

  • Comment number 80.

    Come on, we're meant to be the whingers, is nothing sacred.

  • Comment number 81.

    "The problem for Scotland now is that the Lions will be chapping on Andy Robinson's door to coach them on their next tour. Andy Irvine is the manager of Down Under 2013 and he must see what is happening."

    Words of wisdom penned by Mr. Beattie in a blog from 2010. In his last-but-one effort, Mr. Beattie admits that Mr. Robinson has, during his tenure as Scotland head coach, been guilty of certain "errors of selection" - errors which Mr. Beattie is apparently able to "live with". When will Mr. Beattie realize that Mr. Robinson has a rather lengthy track record regarding errors of selection (not least those pertaining to his less than glorious term as coach of England)?

    On the evidence of the latest test match vs. France at Murrayfield, Scotland have some exciting young players coming through (Hogg being particularly impressive) and some of their play yesterday was excellent. However, I do not believe that Mr. Robinson (by many accounts a technically accomplished forwards coach, despite the debacle of the Lions 2005 tour) is the right man to take them to the next level (which currently means getting back into the IRB top 10 rankings).

    "He seemed perfectly affable, but I got the disctinct impression that there was not too much going on above shoulder level."

    Words of wisdom describing Mr. Robinson, penned by the late Mr. Alan Watkins in the Independent newspaper some years ago.

    Perhaps Mr. Beattie should join forces with another well-known occasional Scottish rugby writer to produce a very lengthy (and self-delusional) aricle in the Scotsman newspaper, describing in detail how Scotland - with Mr. Robinson on charge - did not fail miserably in the last World Cup, have won the vast majority of their recent 6 Nations fixtures (scoring a veritable glut of tries in the process) and are now well on course for their next Championship/Triple Crown/Grand Slam.

    Two away fixtures in Dublin and Rome do not bode well for Mr. Robinson's tenure.

  • Comment number 82.

    Don't know what happened to my original comment but on reviewing it I noticed that a vital piece was missing and it made no sense. It should have read as follows:-
    I agree that the ref. was dreadful but we (Scotland) cannot expect to be taken seriously in the modern professional game so long as we have a little fat man as first choice for one of our props and the kind of attitude displayed by the two Andys (Robinson and Nicol) is prevalent - " We cannot ask more of the lads" - "We were unlucky" - " we have a good team" etc. etc. when the evidence (game after game thrown away by failure to carry out the basics properly) is to the contrary.

  • Comment number 83.

    Mr Beattie
    I note your words regarding Mr Barnes' performance this afternoon. You seem to be unaware that elite referees ARE subject to the most intense scrutiny - at every single match which they officiate, they are watched by an IRB assessor, who produces a detailed report on each member of the "team of three". The officials are judged on how well they manage the game, the accuracy of their decisions and how well they observe the latest IRB fads (sorry, "guidelines"). If that weren't difficult enough, they are also subject to public criticism by other people, most of whom have precious little knowledge of the laws of the game and no idea of how to referee a match. I do hope that you don't fall into this second category of "assessor" ...
    One other point - I know for a fact that when Mr Woodward was in charge of the English team, one of his mantras was (I paraphrase) "you have to beat EVERYTHING which conspires against you, including bad luck and dodgy officials". Another was (again I paraphrase) "whining about misfortune and perceived injustice is the action of a loser".

  • Comment number 84.

    @70 neepwan
    It is not the referees who are changing things, it is Mr O'Brien and his house elves aka the IRB referees department. The laws are indeed reviewed at specific times, but in between those times the department issues guidelines and interpretations, which are not subject to any form of approval external to the department. Failure to follow these guidelines is thought by many to be a career-limiting move for an elite referee, whilst observing them pointedly will almost certainly win good marks from the IRB assessors. Allegedly.

  • Comment number 85.

    2nd half the ball carrying was poor after Scotland's 2nd try, just kept making errors and even though this French side are not really a RWC runner-up side you still cant make that many errors in a game. Something missing on the training field there as they dont do that at club level or they wouldn't be wearing the shirt in the 1st place.

    Robinson wasn't the answer for England and on results doesn't seem to be for Scotland. But good sides do take time to build. South Africa were awful in 2005/6 but were building for 07 when they won the big one and England disintegrated after 2003 as they had built for that moment. So you have to lay the foundations for things to grow and its interesting to see some Scottish fans on the blogs who are happy with their progress, so they must be improving (not on results) somewhat. Just little errors seem to be the difference, if they are a little more composed they can find that cutting edge. Really liked the scrum half in the 2nd half he was exciting to watch.

    As a Welshman I support the Scots in every game they play and it would be good for European Rugby to have a good competitive Scottish side again. I grew up watching Calder, Hastings and co. Good times, just seem all too distant these days.

    I think there are some very solid players in that squad and potential Lions players for sure. But in the modern sporting arena you have to judge a coach and his team on their ability to turn the players ability into results and there is something missing, it's the coaching teams responsibility to find that 'something' if they cant do it then there may well be someone else who can and Robinson should no be so brash at saying 'who else is there but me'. (or words to that effect)

    Look at the job Lancaster has done for England in such a short space of time......there is always someone else out there that can implement systems that you haven't even thought about which breeds belief throughout a squad. Wales have been transformed since they went to that Polish Training Camp, is that the players - No - pretty much the same nucleus that was losing last year, but thats where Gatland and Edwards/Howley & the WRU have stole a bit of jump on some of the other sides, those are the kind of things that can give you the edge.

    Good luck to the Scots you deserve better times. I hope for Robinson's sake his 'project' does work and he can stick his middle finger up at the disbelievers and we have a good old fashioned tough as nails Scottish side once again.

  • Comment number 86.

    @Cedders_B
    Nobody likes to criticise the refs, I know they have an extremely hard job, however some consistency in decisions wouldn't be too much to ask for. I thought Wayne Barnes failed to apply the laws regarding entry at the breakdown and missed a clear high-shot on a Scottish player that could have resulted in the scores being tied, instead the French drove down the field and Beauxis slotted a drop-goal effectively killing the game.

    Saying that we can't have too much to complain about, this was a very capable French team and Scotland matched them in most areas (except crucially the scrum) and created two well-taken tries. On the whole an improvement since the England game and a massive step forward in terms of execution. I don't expect us to beat the Irish in Dublin as they are undoubtedly man-for-man the superior outfit but I do think we are at least 1 level better than Italy at present and should be confident of beating them in Rome. We should have ended this campaign having beaten England and Italy and lost to Wales, France and Ireland but that wasn't to be. I hope AR continues as coach because we are clearly improving and have some exciting talent emerging. We need continuity now to take us into the Autumn and next years 6N where we should expect to see improvements in our results. Lets face it with only 2 home games this season and 1 being against the RWC runners-up it was never going to be easy was it?

  • Comment number 87.

    Scotland played really well, some poor decisions from the ref, however France was stronger.
    The difference is the bench, guys like Servat, Nallet and Bonnaire coming in, Hamilton, Ford and Denton leaving, the result, Scottish scrum not heavy/strong enough.
    A shame that Duncan Weir could not play on the front foot.

  • Comment number 88.

    Not one of your better effort John, I understand you're frustrated but the ref had a poor game and was more than lenient with you're guys lying down on the ball and not rolling away. Poor refereeing from both side's perspectives so all there is to talk about is how Scotland showed some very encouraging signs and how France are simply superior and imposed themselves.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    Happy to see Scotland on the right path, but this referee thing is a big issue.

    I am not referring to Scotland only, every top class international game is strewn with referreeing inconsistencies to such an extent that the game is often decided by these alone.

    But the southern hemisphere refs do seem to get it right much nore often than the northern hemisphere guys. Why? Most of the northern hemisphere guys are really second rate at best - perhaps even third rate. Perhaps its time for the 6N to use solely SH refs!

    This is not just an observation in rugby union, it is also a criticism of the world game football - the same inconsistencies often surface.

  • Comment number 91.

    The moderator who removed my what I thought was a balanced non swearededly comment is an England or Edinburgh fan. lulz

  • Comment number 92.

    zmichael22 (18) is quite right. Scotland were actually flattered by two blatant refereeing errors which gifted them 10 points. Swings and roundabouts. Unfortunately, rugby suffers more than any other game from poor refereeing, and always has; at least, since 1959 when I started following it.

  • Comment number 93.

    In France, we say that the support is the sixteen player...
    I was really disapointed with the Murrayfield crowd, we heard too loudly "Allez les Bleus" and "La Marseilleise" with no answer!

  • Comment number 94.

    John,
    On reflection the day after there were some good developments, but two factors did not help Scotland.

    The scrum going backwards in the second half gave France a true advantage, secondly Chris Cuisiter has taken to nagging at the ref., all the time instead of just getting on with the task at hand, it slowed Scotland down further.

    Living Switzerland, I was not aware that Nick De Luca has come under fire through a twitter account. But, for the first time ever, he really performed, he must play with such anger in the future, he was a changed man, as is Ross Ford, two players that for years who seemed to turn up and get a game, they really did well.

    As for Barnes, well you need to play with all you have, ultimately Scotland still have a way to go, but needless to say they are improving game on game, I was positive going away from that match. It has been a logn way to reach a turn in fortune, I do believe Scotland may be getting very close, to getting there.

  • Comment number 95.

    It's difficult to blame a ref. You knew this one is going to be poor, it's his standard. Take a leaf out of the professional football game and study his performance before hand. Thenlike any other cheating ploy in training, you should be able to play percentages on his inabilities and weaknesses.

  • Comment number 96.

    Whilst I agree it wasn't Barnes' best game, we had the game in our own hands. The first 20-30 mins we completely blew France away, and that's the telling difference between us and the top sides.
    If Wales or the ABs had a team on the rack like that they'd have stuck 25-30 points on them and the game would be done and dusted.

    I still think we can get a result against a relatively misfiring Ireland in Dublin, and if we play like we did in the first half yesterday then Italy should be getting put to the sword too.

  • Comment number 97.

    Well our warm up games for the Italy match are going well...so where do we start...front row...1 and 3...did not lose us the game but...Chunk needs someone challenge him to get an NDL sort of kick in the back side, and whilst on the subject yes NDL had a good game...but he nearly did that "Hogg" pass again, if Vernon had not caught it, he would have been at least half to blame for it, I think impact from the bench is best, half a good game does not compensate for loads of average ones...

    I thought our backline was more than okeish until the injuries, Ramont, never one to half injure himself, lost us some invaluable power, and Blair lost us some vital speed, Cusiter was miles behind the pace when he came on and I wonder how long we can carry on waiting for him to rediscover his form...the 6 nations is not where it should be done...

    And that is the problem, once we lost to England a lot of expectations for this year's tournament were gone with it, what are we going to learn with the last two games? Possibly that we should have started with the team we are going to end with...most of the newcomers were a great addition to the game and in fact made some of the old guys look distinctly past it...and that responsability lies with AR...we need some big guys at the back, the two french tries were due to power imbalances...Until Ansbro comes back, we need to try Scott...nothing to lose...

    And last but not least, the ref and refereeing in general, is shambolic, who had high hopes regarding Mr Barnes before the game, not a lot of people, this needs to be adresses, or as the French alluded to during the last RWC, there is a risk that a big free for all fight during an RWC final that will do no-one any good...

    I am also intrigued that there is no Scottish referee when I see the international standards, surely worst comes to the worst we could poach a couple of diabolical ones to bring us a bit more enjoyment out of our 6 nations involvement...

  • Comment number 98.

    I thought we played very well. We've been the dominant team on the pitch for most of the games we've played over the last 2 years.

    I don't think Robinson will walk just yet. He must be hugely frustrated, but I think he will give it another year. He knows they're closer than ever before. They're moving forwards, by inches and still no closer to winning but if they can hit a small streak, and build on that, they will be formidable.

    The first game is so key. I still don't know how we lost it and if we had won, I don't think we would have lost the next 2.

    I cannot think of another example in any other sport where the team has been on such a long losing streak, with such a poor record, and yet no savvy fan wants the coach to leave.

    Things are getting better, much better than any point since 1999.

    Can't help but feel Eileen Drewery is involved in this again. Jinxed!

  • Comment number 99.

    The difference is only mental attitude, you look at the Welsh now, and the Irish in 2009.

    It takes time to build but we have the players to do it.

  • Comment number 100.

    Why is anyone surprised that poor refereeing decisions are deciding games?

    Wales won the triple crown by beating Ireland with a dodgy penalty and England by a try which looked good being disallowed. No to mention the whole ball swapping incident in the Wales Ireland match last year. In the Scotland France match their was no stand out bad decision, except possibly the last scotland try, i'm not sure on the rules, but the scot who came through the ruck was the tackler who as i understand it isn't considered part of the ruck anymore cos of the whole releasing the tacklee rule, if this is the case he was off side and the try shouldn't have stood.

    Until professional refs are sanctioned for poor performance, and not only when it adversely affects the kiwis, and young refs like Barnes and Clancy aren't rushed in to too high a level before they get experience, Rugby is in danger of becoming a farce.

 

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